Amex Declined Charges [Why & How To Fix In 2023?]

Updated On: 09/06/2023 is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Experiencing an Amex declined charge can be nerve-wracking, yet it's quite common. You may be standing in line at the grocery store or dining with colleagues when that dreaded message pops up - your transaction has been declined.

While this can make you panic, it's essential to understand that there are several reasons this might happen and, more importantly, many ways you can resolve it.

We understand why your American Express card might not be going through starts here. In this article, we'll take an informative and straightforward approach, breaking down potential causes and their solutions.

Providing clarity is our goal because, let's face it, nobody enjoys the embarrassment of a declined transaction. So, get clear answers to your pressing questions about Amex declined charges.

Why Amex Declined Charges?

American Express may decline charges for several reasons, including insufficient funds in the account, incorrect card details, expired cards, suspicious or fraudulent activity, or a technical glitch in their system.

Amex Declined Charges

It's crucial to contact American Express customer service to get the exact reason if your card is declined. They will provide specific details about the issue and guide you on how to fix it, depending on the problem.

10 Reasons Why Amex Declined Charges?

Navigating a declined charge can be tricky, but things get smoother with a bit of comprehension. Here are the most common reasons why your Amex card may be declined:

10 Reasons Why Amex Declined Charges?

Insufficient funds or credit limit reached

Arguably, the most common reason for an Amex card decline is having insufficient funds or reaching your credit limit. Every cardholder has a maximum amount to spend with their American Express card.

This limit may be set based on your financial history, credit score, and your particular credit agreement with American Express. Surpassing this limit prevents new transactions from going through, hence the 'decline' message.

Suspicious or unusual activity

Credit card companies like Amex have advanced algorithms that closely monitor your transaction behavior to ascertain any unusual activity that may indicate fraud.

A sudden splurge of activities outside your usual spending or geographical area can flag suspicions, leading to an immediate block on the card until the issue is clarified.

Also Read: Amex Declined Venmo 2023 [Possible Reasons And What To Do?]

Expired Card

If your American Express card has expired, all transaction attempts will undoubtedly be declined. Fortunately, Amex usually sends out new cards well before the expiry date of the old one - usually about a month before.

Should you select not to activate the new Card by expiry of the old one, transactions will be turned down due to usage of an expired Card. Remember to check for emails from them if you're almost up on that expiration date!

Card not activated

The culprit could most probably be that own forgetfulness. Sometimes, amidst all the new-card excitement, we forget to activate our precious plastic buddy.

American Express cards must be activated before they can be used; this process typically involves calling a number or logging into an online account to verify receipt and willingness to operate said Card.

Pending Credit Card Bills

If you are pending with some credit card bills, there's a likelihood that could be the cause of your Amex being declined. This is particularly true if you have missed multiple payments or are overdue.

The thing about credit cards is providers such as American Express pay close attention to your repayment habits. If they sense that your financial behavior is risky, they might cut off your spending privileges and halt all transactions on the card until the existing debt is paid off.

The card was reported as lost or stolen

Security is paramount when it comes to financial instruments like credit cards. If you report your Amex card as lost or stolen, it gets red-flagged immediately in the system to prevent potential fraudulent activities through unauthorized usage.

As a result, any presented transactions will bounce back declined until American Express issues a new replacement card after proper communication channels are confirmed active again.

Merchant Error

Sometimes, the fault isn't on your side; instead, the merchant you're transacting might insert incorrect information, leading to an unstable transaction processing that declines.

Inaccurate data can range from wrongly placed decimals to entering outdated billing information; any small error in these neuralgic points of transfer protocol can result in transaction failure.

Billing address mismatch

A common reason for declined charges that are often overlooked stems from a simple billing address mismatch.

Payment processors, including Amex, use services like AVS (Address Verification System) to match provided billing addresses with those on file at banks/card issuing companies when authorizing electronic transactions.

Matching is another defense against fraudulence, as many illicit charges feature non-matching input addresses and received ones.

You’re Traveling

Traveling can also cause a hurdle in your transaction process. Surprised? Well, American Express, like many credit card companies, has stringent anti-fraud measures that monitor the geographical usage patterns of your card.

Suppose you start using your card thousands of miles from your usual location. In that case, this can trip up Amex’s systems and result in a possible decline due to the system perceiving such transactions as suspicious.

Account Holds

The most common reason you might get hit with an Amex declined charge could be due to an account hold. Several incidences might cause American Express to place holds on accounts: unresolved disputed charges, late payments, or exceeding credit limits are just a few examples.

What To Do If Your Amex Card Is Declined

What To Do If Your Amex Card Is Declined

If your transaction fails, the practical first step is to try again at another location. For instance, if your card is rejected at a gas station, you could attempt a small purchase at a grocery store. This can help you determine whether the problem was with the particular terminal or your card itself.

However, if the second attempt also results in a decline, it's time to pick up the phone and call(1-800-528-2122)your card issuer directly. The customer service team is equipped to identify potential issues with your card and guide you through resolving them.

Also Read: Why Is My Capital One Account Restricted & How Do I Fix It?

How To Avoid Declined Charges In The Future?

Preventing declined charges primarily involves staying on top of your finances and maintaining excellent communication with your card issuer. Here's how you can proactively avoid declined transactions:

Monitor Your Balances

Regularly check your account balance and ensure you know your credit limit. This knowledge can help prevent declined transactions due to overdraft or maxed-out credit.

Practice Regular Bill Payment

Pay all your bills promptly, as pending bills can sometimes result in a charge decline.

Inform Your Card Issuer of Travel Plans

Before you embark on a trip (especially to a foreign country), give American Express a heads-up. This action reduces the likelihood of seeing "Amex declined charges" due to their fraud prevention system flagging unusual activity.

Update Account Details

To best serve you, Amex must have accurate information about you. Regularly update your contact details, address, and email with the bank.

Aside from these steps, always report any suspicious activity promptly to Amex customer service. Remember, most issues with declined charges can be resolved quickly and efficiently when addressed immediately with the proper measures.

FAQs About Amex Declined Charges

Why was my Amex card declined?

Your Amex card may be declined due to insufficient funds, expired card details, or suspicious activity detected by the bank.

What should I do if my charge is declined?

Review your card details, ensure sufficient funds, and contact Amex customer service if the issue persists.

Can a declined charge affect my credit score?

A declined charge itself won't affect your credit score, but unpaid balances or maxed-out credit limits can have an impact.

How can I prevent future declined charges?

Regularly review your account for available funds, update card details when necessary, and monitor suspicious activities.

Will I be notified if a charge is declined?

Amex sends an alert or notification for declined charges through email, SMS, or their mobile app.


In conclusion, there are various reasons why American Express (Amex) might decline a charge on an account. These reasons range from security measures, such as suspected fraudulent activity, to practical concerns, like reaching a credit limit or missing a payment.

External factors, such as network glitches or errors in merchant systems, can also play a part. For cardholders, it's crucial to maintain open communication with Amex, routinely check the account status, and promptly address any outstanding issues.

This helps avoid declined charges and ensures a smooth, uninterrupted credit card experience.

Michael Restiano

I lead product content strategy for SaltMoney. Additionally, I’m helping our broader team of 4 evolve into a mature content strategy practice with the right documentation and processes to deliver quality work. Prior to Instacart, I was a content strategy lead at Uber Eats and Facebook. Before that, I was a content strategist at SapientNitro, helping major Fortune 500 brands create better, more useful digital content.